Friday, April 8, 2016

What a life altering experience!

Carol with Little Rock mom and her daughter

This February, I wanted to celebrate my 70th birthday by taking my family on an extraordinary trip.  For me, Africa became a magical place when I visited with my brother for the first time last year.  For John, this was primarily an EPN business trip with one of the important destinations being the Little Rock Inclusive Early Childhood Development Centre in Nairobi, Kenya.  I had met its founder, Lilly Oyare, when she visited the US the year before, and was anxious to see the school.  For me, the rest is history; I was hooked on Little Rock.

Little Rock kids

Eleven of us, ages 7 to 80, shared the most amazing experiences, but I think it was our day at Little Rock that set the tone for the rest of our African adventure.  My four grandchildren were enthralled with the kids, hundreds and hundreds of smiling, laughing, running and jumping kids who greeted them with open arms. On our way to Little Rock, we had driven through the main street of Kibera, Nairobi’s largest slum, and my grandchildren were aware that this slum was home to most of the Little Rock students.  In the afternoon, when we had planned a walk through Kibera, the three girls refused to join us protesting they were having just too much fun at the school.  Somehow, a day at Little Rock infuses one with joy, and hope, and happiness.

Carol's grandkids with Little Rock friends 

My grandchildren were no exception.  They talked about that day for the rest of the trip, and always with love and affection.  The rest of our time in Kenya was fabulous, but as we were waiting at the Nairobi airport to start our homeward journey, I asked what was the highlight of their vacation.  Almost in unison, they replied, “the Little Rock School”.   Today, we still talk about the Little Rock School and how they might be able to raise money to help their new friends.
For me, returning to Little Rock strengthened my commitment to EPN, to the Little Rock School, to the EPN sponsored Little Rock Scholars Program, and to my wonderful brother John who is really making a difference. 

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